It's decision time, folks.
We need to talk about Jonathan.
In particular, we need to talk about my ministry on the Internet (if I even have one).
I started off this year in an optimistic mood. My stats were up, almost to the point they were at before all my old friends disappeared off to Facebook. My liturgical project, "New Words for Holy Communion" was about to be launched and I was quietly confidant about its merits and usefulness. Unfortunately, as is usual with me, my optimism was misplaced. Okay, my stats are still good but "New Words" has been a singular disaster. I only have fourteen subscribers after three monthly editions and the number of people buying the Kindle edition dropped from fifteen last month to just two this month. I was hoping that I would be able to support myself from my writing but, obviously, I was well overestimating my potential popularity.
Josh from THE DAILY OFFICE WEST contacted me recently on Facebook to tell me that, in his opinion, I definitely had a vocation as an online priest. He suggested that I ought to try and get the financial support from my readers and podcast listeners in order to make it possible for me to support myself from this ministry. He told me how he had recently raised £5000 for his website from his readers. I was jealous, of course, but I was also motivated and this post is a direct result of Josh's encouragement and advice.
There are some good reasons why I should carry on with this strange ministry of mine.
OCICBW... gets over 1500 hits a day.
OCICBW... clocks up about 24000 unique visitors each month.
OCICBW... has survived, uninterrupted for six years and is rapidly approaching the unbelievable (to me) figure of two and a half million hits.
Saint Laika's and The Anchorhold get about 3500 visitors a month.
Each of the Saint Laika podcasts are usually downloaded by between six hundred and two thousand people. The Holy Week services have, so far, been downloaded by 4342 people.
My recent involvement with Facebook has been far more successful than I ever thought it would be. I tend to duplicate posts from OCICBW... on my Facebook wall, rather than just publicising my blog, and I post unique content there as well. I have no idea how many people read my Facebook stuff but I now have nearly one thousand friends plus goodness knows how many anonymous readers as my page is open to the public.
But there also good reasons why I should pack the whole thing in.
To keep the blog and website going and to produce the podcasted services costs me about £150 per month, not including my time.
I spend over seventy hours a week working on my various internet projects, which is more time than I spent working when I was a parish priest.
My "New Words for Holy Communion" project takes at least eight days work a month to write, edit and publish and, as I said above, it has, most definitely, not taken off.
My few loyal and generous benefactors who support me through monthly donations has not increased hardly since I first asked for support. In fact, I have lost quite a few of the original sponsors by upsetting them with something I said on my blog - it happens and OCICBW... would be boring if I wrote only that which I thought would make me money.
I cannot afford to live on what I earn from my internet work and yet I certainly can't afford to live without it as the Church of England remains determined not to give me back the stipend they promised me when I gave up everything to train for the priesthood on their suggestion twenty odd years ago.
So, what to do?
I have decided to make one more, and probably last, attempt to fund this ministry of mine that so many of you keep telling me is important to you and to others.
To fund my internet projects and provide for Mrs MP and myself (and the two dogs, of course) I would like to earn £1500 per month before tax. This would work out being far lower than a Church of England priest's stipend but, I don't have children, so I would be happy to make do on it. My life would be considerably easier and less stressful than it is at the moment.
£1500 is 300 monthly donations of £5.
So this appeal is about raising 300 pledges of £5 per month from you.
But, it is not quite as unrealistic as it seems at first glance because I already receive £620 in regular donations each month which works out at 124 units of £5. So all I now need to raise is another 176 subscriptions at £5 per month. When you consider that fourteen times that number of people downloaded my Maundy Thursday service, that isn't really too much to go for, is it?
So, please (please, please, please, please, please), if you value my ministry and can afford to, consider committing to a regular donation to my work. Below is a PayPal widget. Click on the option button and you will see that you can make a donation of between £5 per month and £50 per month (in multiples of £5). Click on the amount you wish to send each month and then follow the instructions. You should not need a PayPal account to use this facility. If you wish to make a lower pledge or, if you have just won your national lottery or come into a fortune some other way, a higher pledge, please use the widget in the right hand sidebar under "MadPriest Is Appealing."
For those of you, who like me, appreciate a visual to get you motivated here is one that I will be updating on a daily basis (click on image to enlarge).